Q: Can Box Lunch Lifestyle help me with portion control?

YES! Another huge win from making your own lunch is that you're usually portioning out your food BEFORE you're hungry. This makes the choice of "better food" WAY easier than facing the less-better choices in a cafeteria line (or on the drive-thru menu) when you're starving...and everything smells so good. 

And since you asked, we're going to let you in on a tip-top secret tip. This portion-control tamer works whenever you are tempted by easy access to more food (e.g., working from home).  AND it works just as well at DINNER.

If you want more food after your plate is empty, DO NOT get a second helping of something you just ate. Not even salad. Eat something different (preferably homemade--and just a half-serving of it. If you're still hungry, eat another half-serving of something else. You can repeat this as much as you want, just don't eat the same food twice. This sneaky-snake trick works for oh-so-many reasons:
1) you're not automatically saying "no" to yourself (because who wants to hear that??)
2) it can steer you away from craving-triggering foods (for this coach, it's any kind of pasta or bread);

3) it's kind of a pain to find something else, so if you're just being lazy, you might skip the extra food;
4) thinking about a different food slows down the whole process (so you might realize you're really not hungry) AND
5) you may get a funny look from people at the table if you go much beyond 1 or 2 different half-servings. Peer pressure. It's not just for middle school anymore.

By introducing a little "interference," the non-impulse part of your brain might help you if your goal is a different choice.

It works. Try it.

Q: Are you making any New Year's Resolutions?

No.

Why wait for some arbitrary day to do something you think could make you a better person?

If you're planning to start something new on January 1, we DARE you to do it today. Because if you're not willing to do whatever it is right now, we're betting that you won't be doing it at the end of 2018 either.

Starting today is brave. C'mon. Do it.

 

Q: How do you "defend" this time?

It's not easy, but it's worth fighting for. Here are some ideas:

  • Your lunch break doesn't have to be at the same time every day. Be crafty. Make it work.
  • Tell your friends, coworkers and family about your intentions. Let them know you'll be taking some time for yourself during the day.
  • Don't get too discouraged when you just can't avoid a last-minute meeting or errand, BUT DON'T SKIP LUNCH. Just because "lunchtime" has passed, don't wait for dinner. Eat. Look away from the screen. If you don't get 30 minutes one day, be sure you get a few. You deserve this.
  • If you don't bring a lunch and need to grab something to eat on the go, don't make that an excuse to use 15 minutes of time just to do something that matters to you. Your body and spirit will still appreciate a chance to reset--even though you ate a few fries.

 

Q: I'm a bus driver for Metro Transit. Sometimes I have only a few minutes between shifts. Any tips?

Not everyone has as much control over when or how they take a lunch break. But if making lunch matters to you, here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Build a 30-minute mosaic. If one block of time is impossible, don't skip it all together. You work hard. You need a break. Piece the time together over a shift however it works for you.
  • Find a well-insulated lunch box that you love. LunchBots has one nice option, and Wirecutter recommended a couple others earlier this year.
  • If better food is a goal for you, think "good" instead of "healthy." Whatever you make for you IS good. Enjoy it. Don't skimp on healthy fats (butter, good mayo, guacamole) that can help you feel less hungry for snacks between lunch and dinner.
  • Look for a quiet spot. You must enjoy people if you've chosen this career, but it may be refreshing to have time alone during such an "others-focused" workday. What are your escape options?
  • Ask what would make you feel good physically during your lunch break. If you sit a lot, maybe a few simple stretches would give you a different kind of energy as the day goes on.

The most important thing is that you do what works for YOU. You deserve this time. Give yourself credit for making a plan--even on the days that take a funny bounce and aren't what you expected.

Make your own rules, and let us know what makes a difference for you.

 

Q: How can I motivate myself to do meal prep on the weekend?

We get it. You only have two days of freedom, and you may not be excited about using that precious time to chop vegetables or cook.

But you will have to eat. Eventually.

Here's an idea: What day DON'T you like? Let's say it's Monday. (We hate Mondays, too.) If that day's already a drag, then add one more chore to it rather than "spoiling" your Saturday. On Monday night when you're feeling beaten down, go ahead and get this out of the way as fast as you can, then relax knowing the rest of the week only gets better. Just save leftovers from Sunday night's (homemade) dinner for Monday's lunch. 

There you go. Bob's your uncle. And you landed a pretty good punch on a day that usually gets you first. You win.

Q: I really don't know what to eat.

(Technically not a question.)

You probably do know what to eat. You do eat now. 

The problem might be that you're actually thinking, "What SHOULD I eat?" which is very different. Try starting with an easier question:

What do you LIKE to eat?

Make a list--of everything. What do you really like? Don't worry about what's healthy, homemade, paleo, or can-only-get-at-Katz's right now. Make the longest list you can.

Could you make any of these yourself? Or something close? Be honest. What are these things MADE of? Meat? Cheese? Eggplant? Chocolate?  Making a list of what you know is IN the dishes you like will help spark ideas for food you might be able to cook or prepare in some simpler way. If you like eggs benedict, for example, you probably like eggs. Making hollandaise for lunch may not be practical, but how about hard boiled eggs? Simple.

This exercise can be a more satisfying (and WAY more fun) approach than just getting someone else's list of "should eat" foods. Try it. Let us know what you come up with so we can share your ideas with the whole team.

Q: How's it going?

People ask how many others are trying Box Lunch Lifestyle.

Here's the answer: more than you might expect. ;)

A Q for you: Why does it matter? At the heart of this practice is finding simple ways to make your life feel more like your life, and your body feel more like the YOU it's meant to be.

Box Lunch Lifestyle isn't for everyone. Not everyone wants to reconnect with food that looks like food, or wants to look away from a screen while they eat. Make your own rules. Be the example. And wonder what you can do to help the people in your life find those things that make them feel not just satisfied every day, but really fulfilled--if even in the smallest of ways.

Q: But I already bring my lunch.

(Not a question.)

It's FANTASTIC that you are already avoiding other food temptations by bringing your lunch.

Now you have a perfect way to level up.

The time you give yourself is just as important as the food. What do you do during this break besides eat? Nourish the whole you. If you're not already, do something active in the world--even for just 15 minutes--that really feels like YOU. Think of it as a little oasis of happiness. Or not. But that's kinda the idea.

Also, Box Lunch Lifestyle is a lifestyle, and that includes paying attention to what you like and don't like--and doing something about it. For example, how much energy do you have around 3 p.m.? A slump could be related to your lunch food (or time!) choices. A better lunch should help you feel good all day, so keep checking to see when it's time for a tweak, or an overhaul.

Q: What do I do if my workspace is in a high-traffic area?

Escape!

Ask yourself: "If my workspace is on the main drag, where is the lowest traffic area for my team?"

You may have common areas or unused meeting rooms to hide in during your lunch break. Or don't forget that if you're in a big building, you'll probably be anonymous to other teams, so you could sit in a different breakroom, for example, and not be disturbed by work questions or other conversations.

Go outside, if you have comfortable options there. Sit in your car if you really want solitude.

You could also invite people to join you for a 30-minute-actually-good-for-you-really-a-break lunch. It might surprise you what happens when people see that it's really not that hard to be a little happier and a little healthier during the day.

Q: What if everyone is going out for fast food just about every day?

You're in the perfect spot to defend what you've decided is important to you. This is good.

Wanting a better lunch doesn't mean being a social outsider. If someone is making a fast food run, go along for the ride. They say it's easier to avoid temptation than to resist, but it IS possible ride in a car with french fries and not eat them.

You can do this. Who will feel better and have more energy at 3 o'clock? You or French Fry Man?

Q: Will vegetables make me feel as full as the bread in a sandwich does?

Vegetables might make you feel "differently full" compared to bread or pasta. 

Here's a trick to see if you're really not satisfied, or if you're not yet feeling "differently" satisfied by your two vegetables: If you're still legitimately hungry, you'd be happy to eat, say, a second piece of meatloaf. If you'd pass on more meatloaf but would eat a piece of cake, you probably really are satisfied. You're just being tempted by a craving. It's a great time to eat a piece of dark chocolate.

Q: What if I'm so hungry I can't make it to lunch time?

Excellent question! This is another reason why lunch matters more than you think. What could this particular hunger be telling you?

  • "I'm not eating enough breakfast."
  • "I'm not be eating the right breakfast for me. I'll try something different."
  • "I'm not sure I'm even really hungry. I'm just bored at work right now."

Or something else. What is it for you?

The point is that you noticed. That by itself is a HUGE win. It means you can choose something more satisfying tomorrow.

 

Q: Can I look at Facebook while I eat?

You make your own rules about what matters.

If you spend 15 minutes only eating food, chances are you'll pay more attention to what you eat. You may be eating slower than you normally would. You may be chewing more. You may even notice how much you like (or don't like) what you're eating. And that matters.

For the 15 minutes of time, doing something that requires acting in the physical world somehow can be pretty satisfying. Social media friends might be important to you, but so might actual humans, and Facebook never seems to have any problem finding it's way into the day. If you can, find someone real that you like to Like during lunch.

 

 

Q: Why only 30 minutes?

Some people do take an hour or more for a lunch break, but it's more often heard that people feel lucky to have 10 minutes to themselves--and may not even remember what they ate while they checked their email or ran an errand.

Making your food last more than 15 minutes may not be as important as using the gift of extra time to try something new--or make even more progress on that whatever-it-is that you've always wanted to do. Try "feeding yourself" for a whole hour and see what you notice.

Q: Chocolate? Really?

Yes. Really.

But try a "better" dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate--even if you've tried dark before and didn't care for it.  There's some research that shows that it may actually be good for you. 

If chocolate isn't your thing, choose a substitute treat so that you don't feel guilty if you want a little something sweet after lunch. You need an option that isn't typical vending machine fare.

Q: What if it takes me longer than 15 minutes to eat?

Enjoying a leisurely lunch is not a bad thing. The question to ask yourself is, "What does the amount of time I spend eating tell me?" 

"I'm not really paying attention to my food. I read the news and lose track of time."
"I'm eating a lot more food than I thought. I just can't eat it all in 15 minutes."
"I'm worried about following the BLL rules. I want to get it 'right.'"

(You make your own rules about what matters.)

YOUR answer should tell you something. Does it?

It's not important that you eat for 14 minutes or 25 minutes. The point is to feed yourself--both your body and your mind--feel satisfied, and give yourself credit.
 

Q: What if I don't want to give up social time with my work friends?

Box Lunch Lifestyle is all about moving toward things that are "better"--not sacrificing what makes you happy.

Does this time with your friends feel like an investment in yourself--in the person you'll be in the future? Do you have a goal or aspiration your friends at work have, too, and you could lead everyone in taking it on together? Is there a non-work-related skill you'd like to learn from someone?

This doesn't have to be a solitary exercise. It could actually be a great way to make connections--and show yourself and other people that you're dedicated to more than just your job.